Ice house moving day is March 19
Deadlines for removing fish houses, dark houses and portable shelters from state waterways are rapidly approaching in the northern portion of the state, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Dates of removal are determined by an east-west line formed by U.S. Highway 10, east along Highway 34 to Minnesota Highway 200, east along Highway 200 to U.S. Highway 2, and east along Highway 2 to the Minnesota- Wisconsin border.
Shelters located south of this line had to be removed no later than midnight, March 5.
Shelters located north of this line must be removed no later than midnight, March 19.
Exceptions are Minnesota-Canada border waters (March 31), Minnesota-Iowa border waters (Feb. 20), Minnesota-South Dakota and North Dakota border waters (March 5), and Minnesota-Wisconsin border waters (March 1).
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials say if shelters are not removed, owners will be prosecuted and structures may be confiscated and removed, or destroyed by a conservation officer.
After removal dates, shelters may remain on the ice between midnight and one hour before sunrise only when occupied or attended. Storing or leaving shelters on a public access is prohibited.
The aforementioned information has been distributed by the DNR to aid shelter owners in avoiding a ticket.
In the Park Rapids area, since we have so many lakes and have anglers that place their shelters in multiple zones, it's important to understand when your structure should be removed.
Another issue that arises annually as the shelters leave the lakes is a simple conservation effort.
A Boy Scout as a child, I was always told, "If you pack it in, you pack it out".
In my Kindergarten classroom, we have a rule that's equally simple; "If you make a mess, you clean it up".
Unfortunately there are those who have propped their shelter up on wood blocks, thrown their cigarette butts on the ice, left their aluminum cans or have even parted with portions of their fish houses because they're either too preoccupied to clean up their mess, or don't care enough about our lakes to "pack it in and pack it out".
As you enjoy the final period of ice fishing we've been granted this season, look for the signs of those who haven't gathered their belongings, especially if it's trash, and give it a rightful rest in the recycling bin or garbage receptacle, whichever is appropriate.
We're fortunate to have the lake resources that surround the area and it's our duty to protect them from something as simple as litter.
It's only a few extra calories and little energy is required to grab something lying on the ice.
But if you pick up enough, not only have you gotten your added exercise for the day, you've done a good deed for the environment.
Even if you've never been a Boy Scout, Girl Scout or belonged to any social group, it's well worth the effort to clean up after ourselves. It's in the best interest of our resources.